“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.” — Margaret Sanger (Her motto: “No gods — No masters.”)
So begins the New York Times full page ad.
Are you dismayed and alarmed by the Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling? The Supreme Court’s ultra-conservative, Roman Catholic majority — Justices Roberts, Scalia,
Alito, Kennedy and Thomas — has sided with zealous fundamentalists who equate contraception with abortion. The court has granted employers with “sincere” religious objections the right to deny women employees insurance coverage for birth control.
This ruling marks a turning point in the struggle to uphold civil liberties in the face of relentless attacks by the Religious Right. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people. Now, the Supreme Court asserts that corporations have “religious rights” that surpass those of women. In the words of Justice John Paul Stevens, “Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires” — but real women do.
Allowing employers to decide what kind of birth control an employee can use is not, as the Supreme Court ruled, an “exercise of religion.” It is an exercise of tyranny.
How appropriate that The New York Times should quote Margaret Sanger
At a March 1925 international birth control gathering in New York City, a speaker warned of the menace posed by the "black" and "yellow" peril. The man was not a Nazi or Klansman; he was Dr. S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of Margaret Sanger's American Birth Control League (ABCL), which along with other groups eventually became known as Planned Parenthood.
Sanger's other colleagues included avowed and sophisticated racists. One, Lothrop Stoddard, was a Harvard graduate and the author of The Rising Tide of Color against White Supremacy. Stoddard was something of a Nazi enthusiast who described the eugenic practices of the Third Reich as "scientific" and "humanitarian." And Dr. Harry Laughlin, another Sanger associate and board member for her group, spoke of purifying America's human "breeding stock" and purging America's "bad strains." These "strains" included the "shiftless, ignorant, and worthless class of antisocial whites of the South."
Not to be outdone by her followers, Margaret Sanger spoke of sterilizing those she designated as "unfit," a plan she said would be the "salvation of American civilization.: And she also spike of those who were "irresponsible and reckless," among whom she included those " whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers." She further contended that "there is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped." That many Americans of African origin constituted a segment of Sanger considered "unfit" cannot be easily refuted.
... Sanger's obsession with eugenics can be traced back to her own family. One of 11 children, she wrote in the autobiographical book, My Fight for Birth Control, that "I associated poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, quarreling, fighting, debts, jails with large families." Just as important was the impression in her childhood of an inferior family status, exacerbated by the iconoclastic, "free-thinking" views of her father, whose "anti-Catholic attitudes did not make for his popularity" in a predominantly Irish community.
Read more here
That Margaret Sanger founder of Planned Parenthood was a eugenics proponent is not a matter of debate as detailed in The Washington Times
Recent articles have reported on an unearthed video from 1947 of Margaret Sanger demanding “no more babies” for 10 years in developing countries. A couple of years ago, Margaret Sanger was named one of Time magazine’s “20 Most Influential Americans of All Time.” Given her enduring influence, it’s worth considering what the woman who founded Planned Parenthood contributed to the eugenics movement.
Sanger shaped the eugenics movement in America and beyond in the 1930s and 1940s. Her views and those of her peers in the movement contributed to compulsory sterilization laws in 30 U.S. states that resulted in more than 60,000 sterilizations of vulnerable people, including people she considered “feeble-minded,” “idiots” and “morons.”
She even presented at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1926 in Silver Lake, N.J. She recounted this event in her autobiography: “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered” (Margaret Sanger, “An Autobiography,” Page 366). That she generated enthusiasm among some of America’s leading racists says something about the content and tone of her remarks.
... “While I personally believe in the sterilization of the feeble-minded, the insane and syphilitic, I have not been able to discover that these measures are more than superficial deterrents when applied to the constantly growing stream of the unfit. They are excellent means of meeting a certain phase of the situation, but I believe in regard to these, as in regard to other eugenic means, that they do not go to the bottom of the matter.” (“Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Feb. 1919, The Birth Control Review).
“Eugenics without birth control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit” (“Birth Control and Racial Betterment,” Feb. 1919, The Birth Control Review).
“Stop our national habit of human waste.” (“Woman and the New Race,” 1920, Chapter 6).
Read more here
You can read one of Sanger's publications in her own words here
And the interview by Mike Wallace
More in Sanger's own words:
EACH of us has an ideal of what the American of the future should be. We have been told times without number that out of the mixture of stocks, the intermingling of ideas and aspirations, there is to come a race greater than any which has contributed to the population of the United States. What is the basis for this hope that is so generally indulged in? If the hope is founded upon realities, how may it be realized? To understand the difficulties and the obstacles to be overcome before the dream of a greater race in America can be attained, is to understand something of the task before the women who shall give birth to that race.
... Can we expect to remedy this situation by dismissing the problem of the submerged native elements with legislative palliatives or treating it with careless scorn? Do we better it by driving out of the immigrant's heart the dream of liberty that brought him to our shores? Do we solve the problem by giving him, instead of an opportunity to develop his own culture, low wages, a home in the slums and those pseudo-patriotic preachments which constitute our machine-made "Americanization"?
Every detail of this sordid situation means a problem that must be solved before we can even clear the way for a greater race in America. Nor is there any hope of solving any of these problems if we continue to attack them in the usual way.
Men have sentimentalized about them and legislated upon them. They have denounced
them and they have applied reforms. But it has all been ridiculously, cruelly futile.
This is the condition of things for which those stand who demand more and more children. Each child born under such conditions but makes them worse--each child in its own person suffers the consequence of the intensified evils.
If we are to develop in America a new race with a racial soul, we must keep the birth rate within the scope of our ability to understand as well as to educate. We must not encourage reproduction beyond our capacity to assimilate our numbers so as to make the coming generation into such physically fit, mentally capable, socially alert individuals as are the ideal of a democracy.
The intelligence of a people is of slow evolutional development--it lags far behind the reproductive ability. It is far too slow to cope with conditions created by an increasing population, unless that increase is carefully regulated.
We must, therefore, not permit an increase in population that we are not prepared to care for to the best advantage--that we are not
prepared to do justice to, educationally and economically. We must popularize birth control thinking. We must not leave it haphazardly to be the privilege of the already privileged. We must put this means of freedom and growth into the bands of the masses.
We must set motherhood free. We must give the foreign and submerged mother knowledge that will enable her to prevent bringing to birth children she does not want. We know that in each of these submerged and semisubmerged elements of the population there are rich factors of racial culture. Motherhood is the channel through which these cultures flow.
Motherhood, when free to choose the father, free to choose the time and the number of children who shall result from the union, automatically works in wondrous ways. It refuses to bring forth weaklings; refuses to bring forth slaves; refuses to bear children who must live under the conditions described. It withholds the unfit, brings forth the fit; brings few children into homes where there is not sufficient to provide for them. Instinctively it avoids all those things which multiply racial handicaps. Under such circumstances we can hope
that the "melting pot" will refine. We shall see that it will save the precious metals of racial culture, fused into an amalgam of physical perfection, mental strength and spiritual progress. Such an American race, containing the best of all racial elements, could give to the world a vision and a leadership beyond our present imagination.
In a recent piece for MSNBC Sara Kugler writes:
Women’s experiences with questions of reproductive justice in the United States have often been tied to race.
In the introduction to Dorothy Robert’s 1997 book Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, she writes:
“The systematic, institutionalized denial of reproductive freedom has uniquely marked Black women’s history in America. Considering this history – from slave masters’ economic stake in bonded women’s fertility to the racist strains of early birth control policy to sterilization abuse of Black women during the 1960s and 1970s to the current campaign to inject Norplant and Depo-Provera in the arms of Black teenagers and welfare mothers – paints a powerful picture of the link between race and reproductive freedom in America.”
Today we are going to discuss birth control, and the woman who spent her life advocating for its universal availability: Margaret Sanger.
Sanger is credited with coining the term “birth control” and founded the American Birth Control League, a precursor to Planned Parenthood, at a time when contraceptives were still criminalized under the Comstock Act. She was instrumental in bringing about the first FDA approved oral contraceptive, Enovid.
But Sanger was also a proponent of eugenics, and saw birth control as a method of promoting that agenda.
So for me at least, the ad and it's quote of a racist eugenics proponent is entirely appropriate.
Or have I been eating paint chips again?